Hot Dog Taste Test overflows with colorful oddities ... Her sense of humor resembles that of another wacky, wise New York cartoonist, Roz Chast. But Hanawalt is further off-kilter than Chast, and more disruptive. It's impossible to imagine Chast casting a series of real clay plant pots shaped like masturbating animals, for instance ... Hanawalt's perverse effervescence has its limits, though. About two-thirds of the way through the book, things slow down a lot. Her diaries of a visit to an animal preserve and a trip to Argentina are pretty standard travel stories. But her frisky watercolor brush and lavish hand with color make these sections almost as memorable, and certainly as diverting, as the mind-bending games of earlier pages.
[Hot Dog Taste Test is] a collection of disparate styles: lists, traditional comics, essays with spot illustrations, and beautiful weird landscapes featuring mysterious bird-headed people. Aside from Kate Beaton and Michael Kupperman, Hanawalt is one of the few cartoonists who can reliably make me laugh out loud ... Some of the best pieces in Hot Dog are outright journalism, particularly essays where Hanawalt spends the afternoon with deconstructionalist chef Wylie Dufresne and samples the different high-end all-you-can-eat buffets in Las Vegas. Other meditations on public bathrooms seem strangely apt in a book that is primarily interested in food ... urgent, compelling, energetic.
[Hanawalt] is appreciative of weird foods without coming off like a dilettante, and she expresses a love of junk without seeming like a glutton. She can even be directly autobiographical without being annoying ... her comics on food are no different from her comics on anything: the product of a mind with a marvelously weird perspective ... Some drawings are almost a series of comics symbols: small, simple, heavily outlined in black and colored in flat blocks. Others are lyrical, bright, wildly colored and emotive. It’s nice to see her exploring her range visually as well as just being amusing. The best comedy and maybe the best art, period, straddles the id and the superego—that’s the zone where Hanawalt exists in Hot Dog Taste Test.